Another Pilgrimage to Jackson, Part II (The Bill Ohrmann Encounter)

So at this point we are getting in the grungy groove of car camping.  Feeling good, eating good.  Making memories….

Seeing your first born son take the helm of the same boat you floated some 13 years prior is enough to bring a tear to your eye.  It was an extra fun day “riding the Snake” with my old co-guide buddy who still pushes those oars for tips.  That reminds me, “If you enjoyed the ride, tip your guide!”

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Another tear jerking moment, the swearing-in ceremony of a Junior Ranger.

Life and death everywhere…

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Even dead roadside towns.

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And then this thing happened.  I popped the emergency brake in the middle of the road when I saw these incredible life sized steel sculptures in the middle of nowhere Drummonds, Montana.

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These incredible works of art were creations of this 94 year old retired rancher.

 It took him awhile to walk the hundred feet from his home over to his roadside gallery.  A gallery FULL of some the best folk art I have ever seen.  He became an artist about when he turned 78 years old.  He gave a Jake a small metal bug that he made out of copper wire and solder and melted pvc and paint.  We bought some hilarious pen and ink drawings depicting old farm life and the tough women who held down the fort back in the day.

His poignant paintings usually depicted some really heavy scenes full of symbolism in regards to the fallacies of the new human race.  I was left scratching my head as to how this sweet tender man who was just a grinning and telling jokes the whole time can create hundreds of dante-like scenes of doom.  He answered that his creations are inspired by his own experiences in the way the world has changed in the last century.

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I’m starting to amass a collection of images where Jessie is assisting Jake in peering into the mysterious holes of his environments.  It seems like this is always happening.  One day I’ll blog them all.

So we go to leave, and we are driving away;   I felt like a baseball fan who had just hung out with Dale Murphy.  I felt honored and was itching to express my gratitude.  We turned around AGAIN, and I knocked on his door.  The poor guy had probably just wanted to nap after our whirlwind family was finished taking over the place.  But here I was, with a camera in hand, asking him for a portrait.  He smiled and obliged.  “Where you wanna do it?” he asked.  “Psssht, right here under this giant Kodiak bear would be fine.”  He sat there on the base of that thing for a good five minutes talking about art and the “sun” he drew on his hat and my scars and photography depth of field and focal planes and migrating swallows.  And then Jake brought him a dandelion puff.

The last picture will always be one of my favorite images I’ve ever taken.  What a day.  He should be receiving a nice print in the mail right about now.

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Thank you for your time, Bill Ohrmann.    Here’s a link to a recent in-depth interview of this American legend.

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